Tag Archives: yoga

From my journal: What the beginner yoga teacher was really thinking

Yoga classes are many things to different people. Some people come to sweat without the annoying “and one more!” of an aerobics trainer in their ear. Others love the balance and harmony that yoga brings to their spirit.  For some, it’s a break from their hectic modern, plugged in lives.  For the novice teacher? It’s 60 minutes of frantic mental gymnastics and acting cool.

I’ve done a lot (a lot!) of presentations before so I wasn’t really that nervous when I offerred to fill in for my injured yoga teacher one day. Plus, she was going to be in the room, so if anything went really off the rails, I knew she’d bail me out.

This was the first time I would be teaching a) a group of yogis who actually knew what they were doing and b) for a whole 60 minutes. Let me walk you through the sweat-dripping experience (and it wasn’t hot yoga).

I had a routine lined up and had just finished week 4 of the 200 level training so we had been running through poses and sequences ad nauseum to date. I remembered to tell the students they would need a strap and a couple of blocks (normal yoga props for all you non-yogis out there!) – all good so far.

First 5 minutes: put them in savasana and start their meditation. Crap! forgot MY strap and block – quietly run out of the room and grab some for me…DON’T drop the block…sit back down and make sure everyone is still breathing..Damn! I’m not wearing a watch and the teacher’s ipod is blocking the clock…quietly get MY iphone out of my bag and place unobstrusively behind a block.

Next 15 minutes: run through my kneeling sequence with them, remembering to look around and make sure everyone is ok.  WHY do they keep looking at me??? The downside of the kneeling portion of the class is that they are all facing you with these lovely looks of expectation and there is no where else to look except BACK AT THEM.  Which is why I forgot one of the poses and then I forgot what it was called.  Oh that’s why they are looking at me, I can just DO the pose and they will follow. On the other hand, when you aren’t facing your students and you hear a big THUD, be careful how you twist your own head to take a look (ow!).

Next 20 minutes: Teachers, the biggest clue that you are not cue-ing the moves right is when people start to fall down. I’m not saying you are doing anything wrong, but generally, there’s something you can do better at that point. So, when one of the yogis sort of fell over and had to put her hand on the wall, that should have told me to slow down or maybe go and stand in front of everyone rather than making them turn their heads to see me!!  Ah well, noone was hurt; lesson learned.

At this point, for all you math whizzes, I should be just past the halfway point in the class. So, as I look at my iPhone and see that I’m only 25 minutes into the class, my heart starts pounding faster (OMG, what am I going to do with them for an extra 15 minutes) and my mind starts to go into overdrive (longersavansanaattheendandmaybethrowinsomeomsandmaybesomethingelse??)

If you recall, my teacher was in the class and while everyone was resting in child’s pose, I look over at her and she gives me the big thumbs up!!!!  and I give her the face of panic!!!

All bets are off now, I pull out every single routine I can think of in the standing section and hold every pose extra and make them do every pose 3 times. I also notice that the class continues to face you in the standing section so you don’t have the chance to surreptitiously try the routine before you teach it!!! grrrrr (lesson learned – throw in a bunch of stuff where they are looking up or back or to the side)

By about 10 minutes to the end, I haven’t lost anyone, I haven’t made too many verbal flubs but I still have 10 minutes to fill.  I’m wishing I knew my arm balances better because those take a ton of time to do. Alright, so we’ll do a longer than usual meditation.  The class is great, they do all the breathing exercises and I keep checking my iphone’s clock just in case – time runs differently for the teacher than the class.  But when the students go really really still and quiet, I start to wonder if they have fallen asleep. I start to be afraid that the next sound I hear is gentle snoring. Then I start to panic that they are all totally bored and can’t wait to get out of there!  Quick! wake them up! make them do “om”s…..

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30 Days of Beauty – day 21

Ok, this one was really, really, really hard.  The biggest challenge was not being able to remember most of this day despite actually getting sleep the previous night…  I’m going to have to go with movement. I took time out to do my yoga exercises that double as my physiotherapy exercises and felt my body stretch and move. That is a joyous feeling all in its own.

Is exercise just a chore?

30 Days of Beauty: An exercise in writing and recognizing the things that make my soul giggle and sing.


Aerial Yoga – Take 2 and 3

I went back. Playing with the silks was just too much fun (see my first blog about aerial yoga “Hang like a monkey and chant ommmmmmm” and www.p3yoga.com).  Once I got comfortable with getting in and out of them, I could concentrate on the actual poses! On the semi-technical side of things, this type of yoga is great to stretch out your back and do all sort of bendy poses without worrying about falling down or crushing your hips into the floor or basically, no gravity!  and by using the silks, you get a great stretch and work out on different bits of you than floor-bound yoga.

On the cool side, wrapping yourself up like a wonton in the silks is just such fun. (I don’t know the proper name for this yoga pose – sorry!). Laying full out in the silk feels like you’re in your own little cocoon or desert tent or something equally exotic.

Some of my fave poses:

– pigeon pose – one leg in the silk, the other one up off the floor, gently swinging

– cobra – simple, but restorative with the silk around your armpits

– side plank – I’m not very good at it yet, but love leg support by the silk and upper body working stretching out of it

– forward fold – one leg in the silk and then….bring the other one up and cross at the ankles – great for building trust in your own body strength.

too bad I can’t hang a silk in my condo!!


Hang like a monkey and chant ommmmmmm

Aerial Yoga. Sounds like a blast, no?  Well, it was. We were all beginners so the class was more about what to do and how to work with the “silk” than traditional yoga. Throw in a few giggles at the beginning for good measure too. You have to master the floss and cross first (more about that later), but, c’mon, if someone said to you that you could do a dancer pose while upside down and hanging hands-free, doesn’t that sound cool?!? Some things I learnt in the class:

First, just to clarify, it’s not actually silk. I love the stuff especially being Chinese and a girl, but am not about to stretch out like a plank 5 feet in the air in something that has been excreted from a worm. Not that trusting. All the equipment is rated for WELL OVER a person’s weight.  1000 lbs. Even my horse would be ok…..if he could do yoga.

Second, there are a few basics to know. Like how to get into the silk without trapping your hand beneath your butt or that just because you like the colour blue, doesn’t mean that’s the silk for you. So the first was the “floss and cross” – a pretty graphic secure pose. Basically, bunch up the silk so it’s like a rope and thread that between your butt cheeks (that’s the “floss” part in case you weren’t keeping track) and then cross your legs so that they are on opposite sides of the silk. You have to work pretty hard at this point to fall out, but it’s still scary to let go!!

Third, those artists that do the aerial acrobatics for a living deserve more money. Seriously. Just moving around from pose to pose or getting in or OUT of the silk requires more dexterity and upper body strength than I thought. And the whole thing requires core strength.

Fourth, once a person gets the hang of it, this will be seriously iced.

Favourite pose of the night: Superwoman flying down to rescue a cat

Check it out at http://www.p3yoga.com